A group of Christian activists has asked the bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, located in La Crosse, Wis., to remove one of its priests from active parish ministry after he dedicated his Palm Sunday sermon to denouncing COVID-19 guidelines and mask mandates and used church resources to claim vaccines do not work.
The group, Faithful America, expects to gather at least 10,000 signatures. The La Crosse Tribune reports that a previous Faithful America effort focusing on the same priest, Fr. James Altman of St. James the Lesser Catholic Church, gathered 20,000 signatures asking for an episcopal rebuke after Altman preached a sermon in 2020 titled, “You cannot be Catholic and a Democrat. Period.” The Tribune reports:
On Palm Sunday, Altman preached that COVID-19 health guidelines are “godless, Nazi-esque controls,” telling parishioners, “God damns every single one of those godless moves.” He also said Dr. Anthony Fauci’s support for masks “is damnable in the hottest fires of hell.”
On Easter, Altman packed in 300 to 500 parishioners, with at least 50 maskless people jammed in the first five pews — violating the Diocese of La Crosse’s mask mandate and capacity protocols. The church bulletin falsely claimed that COVID-19 vaccines don’t work, and repeated the debunked conspiracy theory that the shots change human genes.
The new Faithful America petition states in part, “As Christians who follow a healing savior, we are called to care for the sick and respect the God-given laws of nature. Right now, that means supporting vaccines, masks and social distancing, just like Pope Francis. Fr. Altman is endangering not only his own parishioners but every essential worker they meet, and should be removed from St. James the Less Catholic Church before he can risk even one more life.”
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